Scott Ford

Born in Denver

Scott Ford 1 month, 2 weeks ago on Our view: More bang for URA’s bucks

A citizen initiative is an entirely different thing and is what the citizens of the City of Littleton recently used to now require that the formation of URA districts and the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) be subject to a citizen vote before they are created. Essentially the citizens of Littleton wrestled this authority away from their City Council. That could happen here but those interested in doing this would need to get their act together pretty quickly. Citizen initiatives require a threshold of 15% of the qualified electorate.

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by my fellow members.)

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Scott Ford 1 month, 2 weeks ago on Our view: More bang for URA’s bucks

Good Morning John – The citizens can vote, however, what they can vote on is narrowly defined in Section 8 of the Steamboat Springs City Charter. Citizens can petition City Council to reconsider only ordinances (not motions or resolutions) and only ordinances that do not involve budgets, capital program, appropriation of any revenues, levy of taxes, or calling a special elections, or authorizing the issuance of securities, or ordinances to meet the contractual obligations of the City. {Levy of taxes now subject to TABOR}

For example, City Council approved by ordinance to purchase the Iron Horse in 2007. This was a contractual and capital expenditure and therefore not subject to a citizen vote. To purchase the Iron Horse the City issued bonds funded via Certificates of Participation (issuance of securities) and therefore not subject to vote. Spending $8 million on a Police Station would not be subject to a citizen vote. Spending $10 million on downtown infrastructure improvements would not be subject to a vote via citizen referendum to reconsider. What would be subject to a vote would be if general revenue bonds were going to be issued to service the debt associated with either of these projects.

For example, on March 3rd City Council passed modification to the downtown noise ordinance. If a group disagreed with the City Council’s decision they could form a Petitioners’ Committee, circulate a petition for City Council to reconsider their decision. The petition would require signatures from 10% of the qualified electorate (registered voters) within the City of Steamboat Springs. Qualified electorate include both active and inactive registered voters as of the date of the last municipal election (in this example November 2013). Currently that number as reported by the Routt County Clerk is 10,158. This would mean that the petition for re-consideration would need to have slightly over 1,000 qualified signatures. This is no easy task and it was not designed to be easy. In January 2010 the City Charter was amended lowering the number of signatures from 20% to 10% - so it got a little bit easier.

The reality is that the citizens are very limited as to what they can vote on to overturn an ordinance passed by City Council. The City Council within the context of the Steamboat Springs City Charter has great power and responsibility. This is why it is so important who is elected to City Council represents your views and that you have great access to them to express your views. (City Council on its own motion, has the power to submit at a regular or special election any proposed ordinance or any question to a vote of the qualified electors.) (Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by my fellow members.)

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Scott Ford 1 month, 2 weeks ago on Our view: YVHA housing project shows promise

"The project allows YVRA to get back into the business of providing attainable housing..." I am pretty sure you mean YVHA - and not YVRA (Yampa Valley Regional Airport). It the details that get ya!

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Scott Ford 1 month, 2 weeks ago on Our view: More bang for URA’s bucks

There was no confusion about the intent and/or focus of the motion made on Sept 2nd (9/2). It was clear stop discussing the URA if the BID vote failed. There was NO confusion about the intent of the 9/2 motion when it was passed by City Council that evening 5/2: Kounovsky=Yes; Myller=Yes; Reisman=Yes; Connell=Yes; Magill=yes Ford=No; Macys=No As evidence of the intent of the motion the supporter of the BID had the following statement on their website.
"City council has been very clear that without a BID in place they will not support capitol improvement projects funded by sources such as a Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and the local lodging tax."

http://steamboatbid.com/ (These are the exact words complete with spelling and grammar errors.)

Last Tuesday night I brought it up that we had a previous council motion we were “violating”. The City Attorney gave advise that essentially said that by talking about URA, regardless of the 9/2 motion, the council had given itself permission to talk about the URA. The discussion that followed about the understanding of the intent of the 9/2 motion – was just so much silly talk by folks trying to justify how they either forgot or chose to ignore that motion. Lesson learned for me – I will do my best to catch these “errors” quicker. It is without question more work to play this “watch-dog” role – but if that is what it takes – so be it!

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by my fellow council members.)

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Scott Ford 1 month, 2 weeks ago on Our view: More bang for URA’s bucks

Hi Scott W – You are correct. In looking at URA/TIFs in other communities across the state they are often done in conjunction with a tangible/enforceable commitment from a private developer to build a new major/significant project in association with the creation of a URA/TIF. No such a commitment exist in this situation which makes it very unusual.

It is assumed by “faith” that good things will happen as a result of committing great sums of public money to all sorts of things downtown. This URA/TIF is so one sided to the disadvantage of the tax payer – I struggle to understand why we keep talking about it as if doing it is the most wonderful of all ideas ever conceived.

Please, those that support the URA/TIF tell me why this is such a good idea beyond telling me – “just have faith”. Simply put, prove it! From my perspective those most passionate about this idea are willing to pledge public funds yet none of their own as the failure of the BID was evidence of.

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by my fellow council members.)

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Scott Ford 1 month, 2 weeks ago on Our view: More bang for URA’s bucks

To be clear I am in favor of doing some infrastructure improvements downtown along Yampa Street. However, the infrastructure improvements and a mechanism to pay for them (URA/TIF) have been so closely linked that there is virtually no “daylight” space between the two. They keep getting discussed as the same thing. The infrastructure and financing mechanism are two very different things.

From my perspective the common sense approach would be to discuss these two different things separately. Deciding on what downtown infrastructure projects are needed and prioritize those projects is the first step. Once this prioritization has been done – make the decision on how best to pay for them. An analogy of the discussion that seems to be occurring is that that just because one may be able to finance a Cadillac Escalade fully “loaded” with every possible option does not mean that is what one buys when a Subaru Crosstrek will more than do the job.

Focusing only on the project list last Tuesday City Council by a 5/2 vote (guess who) decided that the “price tag” on desired infrastructure list was $10.3 million. I liked a shorter list of infrastructure projects that focused primarily along Yampa Street and cost about $1.2 million. Add the cost of undergrounding the utilities along Yampa and building/remodeling two public restrooms and the total cost would be about $3.3 million. Using the previous analogy the $3.3 million is the Subaru Crosstrek.

The cost of undergrounding the utilities ($1.4 million) would be paid for using the utility franchise fee intended for this very purpose. This means that the net cost of the remaining infrastructure would be about $2 million. This $2 million could be folded into the City’s 6 year capital improvement project (CIP) and priorities established.

In this year’s (2015) CIP there is $1.1 million budgeted for the reconstruction of Central Park Drive. The $1.1 million is comprised of about $900K from City funds and a $200K grant. What is envisioned with this reconstruction is a “traffic circle” at the intersection of Central Park Dr, and Snapdragon Way. (This is the Taco Bell Intersection.) I would trade a “traffic circle” in exchange for downtown projects. There are $7.3 million set aside in 2016’s CIP budget for the construction of a police station. Dollars saved (hopefully) with this project could be available for downtown improvements. I am open to that idea.

The CIP is a planning document. It should be used as such and the infrastructure improvements for downtown should be folded into that planning document. The URA/TIF subverts the CIP planning process.

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by other council members.)

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Scott Ford 1 month, 2 weeks ago on Our view: More bang for URA’s bucks

I have a good friend that told me that the proponents of the URA and the use of a TIF are essentially selling “religion”. After reading this editorial my friend’s insights are right.

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be shared by my fellow members.)

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Scott Ford 1 month, 3 weeks ago on Steamboat Springs City Council moves closer to forming downtown URA

I have always supported some infrastructure improvements for downtown. I am just not sure we need $10 million dollars’ worth. Last night a majority of City Council supported a downtown project list that exceeded $10 million. This combined with on how the Police Station discussion may go the City could be on the threshold of spending $18 million on capital projects in the next couple of years.

I do not think there has ever been a City Council in Steamboat Springs’ history (even adjusting for inflation) has come close to spending this much money on capital projects so quickly. The reality of that is still sinking in this morning.

“Council President Bart Kounovsky said past councils have for decades passed on opportunities to invest in the downtown corridor, and the current council should be the one to pull the trigger.” I hope we don’t end up shooting ourselves and the citizens of Steamboat Springs in the foot.

(Although I am a member of City Council my opinions are my own and may not be those shared by my fellow members.)

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Scott Ford 2 months ago on More timeshare units expected at Sheraton Steamboat

I know that hotels pay property taxes at the commercial rate. Are timeshare units taxed at the residential rate for property taxes?

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Scott Ford 2 months ago on 180-unit condo development proposed south of Walgreens

Just curious, does anyone know if apartment buildings/complexes are tax at the commercial rate for property taxes purposes?

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